Virginia’s Bob McDonnell – the “Jobs Governor”?

bob-mcdonnellRepublican Bob McDonnell appears to be dancing to a new jingle: his own promise to be a “jobs governor – bringing new energy resources and jobs to Virginians.” The promise, made public in a recent TV advert, could mean a lot for Virginia’s economy and for the nation’s sustainability scene. But are McDonnell’s claims substantial enough to take to the bank?

The ad follows the premise that “new energy means new jobs.” “We need it all – wind, oil, natural gas, clean coal, nuclear,” the ad says. McDonnell’s promises are clear: he’ll “lead a bipartisan effort to make VA the energy capital of the East Coast,” create “new green jobs zones to help innovators create renewable energy,” promote “safe offshore drilling for natural gas,” and “create new energy and jobs now.” Yet I wonder: where is McDonnell coming from in making these claims, can (or will) he make good on them, and what effect would his plans really have?

McDonnell’s website highlights his stance on many business/sustainability issues: jobs, energy, environment, and more. It details several past environmental initiatives he supported, including the protection of the Chesapeake Bay, the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Act of 1997, and the Open-Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund. If history is an indicator of the future, McDonnell will likely stick to his commitment to protecting the Chesapeake Bay and preserving land, as well as his newer goal of establishing Virginia as a “Green Jobs Zone” (thus encouraging renewable energy technologies). These are among the pillars of his campaign for governor.

However, some would say that, from a political perspective, McDonnell’s relatively moderate stance on environmental issues is curious. Historically, his stance on social and cultural issues has been quite conservative, according to the Washington Post. Therefore, when his current focus on (green) job creation resonated with pro-business moderates, McDonnell’s opponents took notice. In apparent retaliation, they recently publicized a paper McDowell wrote in law school that highlighted several ultra-conservative views he held at that time, including views on women in the work force. In making the paper public, the opponents seemingly aimed to alienate typically-moderate Northern Virginians, who increasingly decide statewide elections in Virginia.

So…. Can McDonnell make good on his green jobs claims? Possibly, if he can garner enough support. What effect would his green energy plans have on Virginia? Only time will tell, but I for one would bank on the effectiveness of sustainable business. Is a green jobs platform realistic for Virginia? That, too, is up for interpretation… What do you think?

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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